Debe Hollingsworth: The New Mayor In a Troubled Town

by George Waldon  on Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Debe Hollingsworth (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

The dramatic action was touted as an immediate morale booster to the police force, which had lost veteran officers through dissatisfaction-fueled attrition.

“I am not a politician,” Hollingsworth said. “I have four years to get the things done I want to get done.

“I don’t even think about re-election. Worrying about re-election can influence a major decision you need to make in the present.”

Hollingsworth also took steps to re-establish the Civil Service Commission, composed of residents. The city council in 2011 had replaced the commission with a committee of city employees.

“The commission will once again provide what you, the people, have asked for, which is a neutral, nonpolitical environment for hiring, promotions, dealing with grievances and termination for our police and for our fire department,” she said in a speech after her swearing-in ceremonies.

Hollingsworth grew up in Jonesboro, where she attended Arkansas State University and graduated from the now-defunct Melton School of Business.

She moved to Pine Bluff in 1975 and began a career in banking and investments at Simmons First National Bank.

Hollingsworth went on to become an examiner for the State Bank Department and an investment adviser/stockbroker at Stephens Investment Group and Worthen Bank & Trust.

Mixed in was work at Hoover Oil Co., her late husband’s family-owned enterprise, and raising kids and teaching them the ropes of the business after Jim Hoover died in 1997.

“There was never a dull moment, but that’s the way I roll,” Hollingsworth said.

She is confident that her leadership skills and business background will serve Pine Bluff well and that her team player approach, charged with determination, practicality and enthusiasm, can help turn things around.

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